All posts by exacto

Chrysler Sets the Record Straight (and Ambitions High) for US Automakers

A few years ago, it was commonly accepted wisdom that the US auto industry would have to go the way of the dinosaur and steam locomotive. The argument essentially was that we as a nation couldn’t afford to bail out companies like Chrysler and GM with taxpayer dollars (all the while bailing out giant savings and investment banks). It seemed as though the late, great American automobile would go the way of the city of Detroit: into history and neglectful ruin.


That was a few, short years ago. But to (almost) everyone’s surprise and delight, the US auto industry hasn’t crumbled. GM has again reclaimed its place from Toyota as the world’s largest car manufacturer. Also, as of this month, Chrysler reported that it posted its first annual profit as a company since 2005, something to the tune of $183 in total revenue for 2011.


True, the Federal government still owns large swathes of some of these companies’ stocks; and the joke can still be heard making the rounds that “GM” stands for “Government Motors.” All the same, with the stock price of automakers’ on the rise again, the government may actually stand to gain a profit from selling off the remainder of its stock to private investors.  And let’s not forget the 1.2 million American jobs that are dependent (at least in part) on the US auto industry for their business.

with quality compression springs, torsion springs, and extension springs. We make these springs from scratch at our 100,000 square foot manufacturing plant just 20 minutes’ drive north of Milwaukee, where we employ upwards of 150 people.n the US auto industry for their business.

Now that the Big Three are roaring ahead again (take a look, if you haven’t already, at this Chrysler commercial that played during the Superbowl this year), we can anticipate an uptick in our own sales. The profits of American vehicle manufacturers can already be seen trickling down to our own business. By the end of this year, Chrysler forecasts an annual profit of $1.5 billion, an amazing (almost ludicrous) prediction by anyone’s standards in 2009.

But that was then. Here’s to a great year of manufacturing, America

Announcing Our Sponsorship of Milwaukee’s Grand Slam Charity Jam!


What do Debbie Gibson, Trista and Ryan Sutter of Bachelorette fame, Naima Adedapo from American Idol, LeRoy Butler, Erica Hoyt, Grace Weber, former Miss America (and Broadway star) Kate Shindle, and live artist Shelby Keefe all have in common? The answer is fairly easy if you happen to hail from Greater Milwaukee.This March 10th, at the Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee, these stars gave it their all in support of Hometown Heroes, a volunteer non-profit organization that serves the needs of “children, families, first responders, and veterans in need” by providing direct financial assistance, emergency aid, and partnerships with scores of important social service organizations. It’s a way of supporting the firemen who put out our fires, the downtrodden and dispossessed who want to give their children a meaningful future, and the soldiers and marines who have sacrificed so much for our country in foreign wars.

As a proud, long-standing member of the Greater Milwaukee community, we at Exacto Spring felt it only fit and proper to help sponsor this charity event. By donating to Hometown Heroes, we can only hope that our contribution furthers the ideals of what our city and community have, at their very best, always stood for. The Grand Slam Charity Jam brought out the best of the best in Milwaukee, and we at Exacto hope to continue in that spirit throughout the course of this year.

Spearheading Milwaukee’s Recovery from the Recession

A lot of people have heard the pundits and statistics claiming that the Great Recession is finally drawing to a close; that job creation and consumerism are on the verge of returning to their pre-2009 levels. Here in our own metro area, a certain level of optimism pervades. In one recent survey, 63% of Milwaukee businesses forecasted stronger sales for Q2, and just over 50% expect to be hiring more workers. There’s also talk these days on the national level about how manufacturing is spearheading the revival of the economy. Again, Milwaukee, with its long-standing portfolio of heavy industries, seems to be at the front and center of American manufacturing’s renaissance. In another recent survey, 82% of manufacturers predict significant sales growth for the 2nd quarter of 2012.

While it’s one thing to hear the good news from pundits and statistics, it’s another thing entirely to see the actual story unfold from the ground level – or in this case, from our own factory floor level. Here at Exacto Spring, we can attest to our own company’s strong growth not only by having the sales figures to prove it, but by the fact that we’ve recently 10% increase in the workforce to handle growth. New machine operators, onsite quality inspectors, and machine set-up personnel are all some of the new workers here. We’ve also made new machine purchases that will, we anticipate, increase our production output considerably.

In short, business is booming again here in Milwaukee. The time may soon come when the rest of the nation follows suit.

Good Manufacturers Make Good Neighbors: Helping Build Our Community for 30 Years

It’s probably clear that we at Exacto take a significant amount of time in helping to further our local community. For instance, our charity work has already been a consistent feature of this blog. But now we think it’s high time we talked about one of the longest-running community building initiatives we’ve undertaken: the Exacto Foundation of Grafton, WI, a privately registered company that works in close conjunction with Exacto Spring, serving the interests of our employees, neighborhood, and greater community in the same way that our company services the needs and interests of precision medical, aerospace, and automotive clients throughout North America.

Going on 30 years, the Exacto Foundation provides several vital and relevant services for the community in and around Grafton. One such instance is how the Foundation grants scholarships to students at local high-schools in Grafton, Cedarburg, and Port Washington. These scholarships allow students the necessary time and materials to enhance their education, and explore possible careers in manufacturing. In addition, we work with these same high schools to deliver manufacturing programs as part of their curriculum, giving students the chance to learn about machining both in and out of the classroom. Furthermore, we have a fund allotted for five college-bound kids every year that helps them pay their tuition. While we enjoy providing this service to the children of those who directly work for our company, we certainly are not averse to giving these prized scholarships to those whom we think best deserve them  – whether they’re part of our Exacto family or not.

It’s always been our hope that these educational and economic development programs fill a vital niche for those who might otherwise be left behind in their pursuit of the American Dream. Being the long-standing precision manufacturers we are, we know full-well the time, labor, and investment required to turn something promising into something successful. In the end, it’s success that counts, and not potential. Our own hard work has paid off handsomely for ourselves, and by bestowing the fruits of our labor on others, we hope to inspire them to chart their own bold course in successful entrepreneurship and prosperity.

2013: The Year of the Car

Recently, Detroit’s Big Three unveiled their latest 2013 car, SUV, jeep, and pick-up truck models. While there are always the winners and losers in such a vast new array of vehicle platforms, the overall response is undeniably positive: a far-cry from just a few years ago, when pundits from America and from abroad were dismissing the American automotive industry as a has-been; a living fossil that was about to go the way of the ancient plants and dinosaurs that today comprise our fossil fuel.

But, as Mark Twain once quipped when confronted with his own obituary posted in The New York Journal, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”  The same can now – several years later – be said safely of the American auto industry: not only has it recovered, but it’s posting record quarterly profits both in America and abroad (China recently surpassed North America for being GM’s largest market). With new eco-friendly engine technology that rivals anything the Japanese have built, as well as new customization offerings that enable drivers to – in essence – “personalize” their own car more than ever before in the history of automobiles, Motown’s Finest are not only running victory laps for this year, but they’re predicting continued job growth, profit generation, and facility expansion for at least the next two years, and more than likely well beyond.

This news can only be a good thing for the folks here at Exacto Spring, seeing as our springs are to be found somewhere in almost any domestic vehicle platform you might care to name. From stem to stern (and in-between), our springs enable cars and trucks to perform any number of critical functions. Thanks to our springs, gas tanks don’t ignite in the event of a head-on collision (and air-bags remain safely fused within their containers in the event there isn’t a collision). Fuel management, air conditioning, seat functioning, cruise control, and valves all likewise depend upon our technology to hold them together.

We’re glad to see the American auto industry holding its own in 2012. We’re proud that our springs have played an integral part in – quite literally – “holding American industry together.” In celebration of this new flourishing of America’s auto industry, we’re going to dub this coming year, 2013, “the year of the car.” Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines.

When You Need a Company That Speaks “Engineer-ese”

Almost any serious-minded manufacturer in America knows what they’re doing when it comes to machining and assembly of parts and components for the industries they work for. It is one of the things that have set our country apart from a lot of international competitors for so many years. While times have changed, and other countries in the world have caught up with a lot of America’s manufacturing proficiency (in some cases even surpassing it), there’s still a recognizable qualitative “voice” that bespeaks what American manufacturing is all about: innovative, fast-thinking, reliable, and serviceable. We don’t simply build other peoples’ ideas; we help them improve their own. That’s what we’d like to believe American manufacturing is all about, and that’s the spirit we try and embody here at Exacto Spring.

There’s a technical expertise at Exacto Spring that other companies simply don’t have. While many companies in America know how to comply with a client’s order down to the last detail (we can do that too), we at Exacto Spring can confer on the highest technical level with those who have initiated a particular project. With a staff of six in-house specialty engineers, our company knows how to speak the complex language of “Engineer-ese” like few others can. Our technicians aren’t glorified sales reps with a bachelor’s in Science; they are living, breathing experts in their respective fields. Any time you feel like reaching out to a company that knows how to speak “Engineer-ese”, know that Exacto Spring can do just that.

Exacto Makes Winter More Fun

Can you feel that bite in the air? After a long, hot summer, many parts of the country are only weeks away from real winter weather. A decent snowstorm already blanked parts of the northern Midwest in the first week of October, so we might be in for a long one.  Trust us, being located just north of Milwaukee makes us experts when it comes to winter! It also turns out that many of our precision springs and wire forms find their way into some of the recreational equipment that make the cold, dark winter months just a little bit more enjoyable. It’s not a surprise considering that we have been the go-to supplier of compression, torsion, and extension springs for almost any industry you can think of for over 50 years.

Here are some just a few of cold weather activities that we help make better:

Skiing:  Exacto supplies this multibillion-dollar industry with components for everything from equipment to resort supplies. Whether you are going downhill or cross-country, we just might have made your trip safer and more comfortable

Snowmobiles:  Almost 50,000 snowmobiles were sold in the US in 2012. We might not have springs in every single one, but we do our part.

Ice fishing: This is one of Exacto’s sweet spots since we are very involved in the fishing industry. If you’ve never had a chance to ice fish, you really should give it a try. It is a unique experience and one that just wouldn’t be the same without the right equipment!

So, as you head out with the family to have a little fun this winter, we hope that one of our springs or wireforms will add to your enjoyment.

Exacto Spring: Bringing Quality Medical Solutions to MDM in the Twin Cities

mdmThe latest Medical Design and Manufacturing (referred to by anyone in the med-tech industry simply as MDM) expo will be held from October 30 – November 1 at the Twin Cities’ own Minneapolis Convention Center. Simply put, MDM is the most comprehensive and visionary overview of what lies in store for medical manufacturing in the coming months and years: the latest trends get covered, as so do the long-term paradigm shifts. Everything gets its time under the limelight, including the ways by which advanced cardiology and minimally invasive surgery are approached and practiced in North America and throughout the world as a whole.

With our extensive background in providing wire-form solutions for surgical processes including neurosurgery, cardiology, and minimally invasive surgery of all kinds, we at Exacto Spring are looking forward to meeting up with old friends and allies, as well as forging fresh business ties with a new generation of OEM medical manufacturers. Whether you’re a tier 1, 2, or 3 supplier, or whether you’re a Fortune 500 medical conglomerate, we’re looking forward to meeting you on the showroom floor. We’ll be exhibiting at Booth # 1141. See you there in the Twin Cities!

Exacto: Already Helping You Prepare for Next Year’s Black Friday

Nothing strikes fear in the hearts of retail workers like Black Friday. Historically it has been the major brick and mortar shopping day of the year. Millions of people line up and pour into America’s stores and malls to get their holiday shopping done, all at reduced prices. This year shoppers spent a mindboggling $11.2 billion at stores on Black Friday, which was actually 1.8% less than last year. The decline is misleading because what used to be one day of sales has now spread beyond the 24-hours that make up the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Interestingly enough, what is now an unofficial national holiday was once seen as a negative. Years ago, the term Black Friday first entered the lexicon as way of describing the “plague” that forced so many retail workers to call in sick the day after Thanksgiving. It then morphed into a description of the unpleasant and unwanted chaos that swarms of shoppers brought to shopping districts. Of course, once business saw the unbelievable money making potential of the day, they turned a negative into a positive and now they cheer on the barely contained chaos. It has gone from signifying a less deadly version of the Black Death to the day when stores start seeing black ink (or profits) on their ledgers.

At Exacto Spring, not only are we there on the shelves on that day – in TVs to washing machines and dishwashers, and even in furniture and toys – but it is also our year-long goal to keep manufactures and retailers of consumer products in the black always. We offer many different ways to keep our customers in the black including:

  • Automation
  • Special packaging and reliable delivery
  • High quality parts that are easy to assemble and are defect-free

All of our 150 employees are dedicated to serving your precision spring needs so you’ll be prepared for next year’s Black Friday!

Over 50 Years of Quality American-made Products

As we begin 2013, we almost can’t believe that it’s been 53 years since we began manufacturing springs and wireforms in Rockford, Illinois. It was just 4 years later that we moved our operations here to Grafton, Wisconsin, and we’ve been producing our high quality, custom products here ever since. We are proud to say that, for each one of our products, we have and will continue to perform each and every step of the design and manufacturing process right here in the U.S.

This is a very exciting time for manufacturing in America. U.S. manufacturing ended the year on a positive note. American car companies, like Chrysler and Ford, are bouncing back from the recession, reaching record sales levels and promising to hire thousands of new American workers. Recent surveys indicate that a majority of American and (maybe surprisingly) Chinese consumers are willing to pay more for products with the “Made in USA” stamp. Meanwhile companies are undertaking massive “reshoring” initiatives and bringing jobs back to the US from overseas.

Here at Exacto, we like to think that we were ahead of the curve on that one. We’ve manufactured our quality products in the USA since 1960 and will continue to do so. Our custom springs and wireforms can be found across industries and applications, from automobiles to appliances. Exacto is everywhere you are; in 2000, we created the Exacto Medical division which continues to grow at an amazing rate in contributing to internal and external devices. Here’s to new applications, American manufacturing, and another 53 years!